GO, YOU ARE SENT!

Monday 30th November – Feast of St Andrew, Apostle

Reflection: Romans 10: 9-18

GO, YOU ARE SENT!

When we encounter the word “preacher”, we almost instinctively turn around to our priests and pastors and point a finger at them – yes, that is the preacher! They are the ones St Paul refers to when he says in today’s first reading, “…they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent.” To a large extent, our instinct is correct because our priests are called in a special way to be shepherds and teachers of God’s people. Yet, that is a grossly incomplete picture of who a preacher is.

We gather together at Mass each day or each Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist and our pastor is ever there at his duty post to preach the word of God to us. We listen, offer our gifts and petitions and receive the Eucharist after which we dismissed with a mission to go into the world and sanctify it with the grace we have received from the Mass. Like Cleopas and his companion who did not remain in Jerusalem after their encounter of the risen Christ, we too are sent forth to go tell our brethren: “we have seen the Lord!”

Dear friend, you cannot truly encounter our Lord and keep it to yourself. Jesus calls you just as he called Andrew whom we celebrate today to be a “fisher of men.” He calls you to show the love, patience and mercy of God to those who surround you in your everyday life – at home, school, work, on the streets, at the pitch…everywhere. He calls you to preach the gospel in places where your priest is unlikely to get to through the witness of your life as well as through your words. Let us heed this call with joy. Let us take up the mission each day so that everyone we encounter will have the privilege of hearing the good news and believe in it unto salvation.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to heed your call to be a missionary in my everyday life. Let my commitment to you be manifest in my way of living and bring others to encounter you. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 1304 – Like Baptism which it completes, Confirmation is given only once, for it too imprints on the soul and indelible spiritual mark, the “character,” which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Romans 10: 9-18; Psalm 19: 2-5; Mt 4: 18-22

WAITIING IN HOPE

 Sunday 29th November – Sunday of week 1 of Advent

Reflection: Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

WAITIING IN HOPE

When would Christ come to dry our tears? Where is God when we need Him most? Why does evil come to good people? These and many more questions flood our minds when we come in touch with the cold hands of suffering. The guilty man walks free, while the innocent man wastes in jail. The brightest child in class drops out of school as her parents cannot afford even the cheapest fees. The beloved husband of a pregnant woman dies barely a year after marriage. In the world there are many troubles, but our peace is our hope of victory in Christ Jesus. (John 13:33).

As the night is darkest just before dawn, Christ has promised that just when you feel the world is shaking; He will come to deliver you. Christ asks you to stand strong in faith, prayer and holiness as you keep watch through the long nights and the storms because our deliverance is nearer now than ever.

As we begin a new year in the Church’s calendar with this season of Advent, a season of hopeful waiting on the Lord, let us commit ourselves to Him more deeply. Let us take stock of the past year and renew our commitment to be faithful to Him and trust that his promises to us will be fulfilled. May we truly prepare our hearts for our Lord’s coming through this holy season. Amen.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, sustain me in the hope of your return and help me to watch and pray at all times. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 308 – What is hope?

Hope is the power by which we firmly and constantly long for what we were placed on earth to do: to praise God and to serve him; and for our true happiness, which is finding our fulfilment in God; and for our final home: in God.

HIDE A TREASURE: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away. The One seated on the throne said: See, I make all things new, and then he said to me; Write these words because they are sure and true.” Revelation 21: 4-5 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25: 4-5, 8-10, 14; 1 Thessalonians 3: 12- 4: 2; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

WATCH YOURSELF!

Saturday 28th November – Saturday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Luke 21:34-36

WATCH YOURSELF!

The admonishment to “watch” is one that comes up at several points during Jesus’ earthly ministry. In discussing the end of time, He admonished His hearers to “watch”. In Gethsemane, at the moment of his agony, He again told them to “watch”. Why does Jesus give this instruction at such critical moments? Through our baptism, we have been cleansed of original sin – the absence of divine grace in us which we inherited from our first parents. We have become children of God and have the grace of God imputed into us. Yet, we still have to make choice between good and evil. Our flesh seeks to satisfy itself always and hence the need for us as Christians to watch ourselves, to always be on the alert.

We live in a fallen world; one that is full of sin and evil. Yet if we cooperate with God’s grace, we will be able to swim against the tide that leads to destruction. Let us remember that this world is not our home; we are on a journey to eternity (Philippians 3:20). Let us hold on to Jesus admonishment today: “Watch yourselves, do not let your heart be weighed down with a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares…” (Luke 21:34).

Each time Jesus asks us to “watch”, He follows closely with the admonishment to pray (Luke 21:34-36; Matthew 26:41). Keeping guard over ourselves goes hand in hand with unceasing prayer. Beloved, let us pray for the strength to resist temptation and watch ourselves so that we may be able to cooperate with God’s grace as the moments of testing and decision making come in our daily life and activities.

PRAYER: Oh Lord, I submit myself to you; please help me to be sensitive to the working of your Holy Spirit. Grant me the grace to watch and pray always that I may not be led into temptation. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 525 – What does it mean to say, “Lead us not into temptation”?

Because every day and every hour we are in danger of falling into sin and saying No to God, we beg God not to leave us defenceless in the power of temptation.

Jesus, who was tempted himself, knows that we are weak human beings, who have little strength of our own with which to oppose the evil one. He graciously gives us the petition from the Our Father, which teaches us to trust in God’s assistance in the hour of trial.

 HIDE A TREASURE: “Stay awake and pray, so that you may not slip into temptation. The spirit indeed is eager, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 CCB

Today’s Readings: Dan 7: 15-27; Dan 3: 82-87 (canticle) Lk 21: 34-36

WORDS WE CAN TRUST

Friday 27th November – Friday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Luke 21: 34-36

WORDS WE CAN TRUST

Over the last few days, Jesus has been explaining to his disciples about the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem, the city which had refused to recognise the day of its visitation. The destruction of Jerusalem which historically prefigured the end of the world was to put an end to the Old Covenant and establish Christ’s new and everlasting covenant. Hence, Christ told his disciples that in the midst of the unprecedented sufferings they were to “look up and raise their heads because their redemption is drawing near.” (Lk 21:28).

As Jesus, continues this discourse in today’s gospel reading, he leaves us words of reassurance; words we can hold on to tightly as we run our Christian race; words from which we can find strength and succour amidst life’s difficulties: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Lk 21:33). What better assurance can we get as we read through Scriptures?

God has many promises reserved for His children. He promises to hear us each time we call on him and to protect us in the day of trouble. He assures us that He has good plans for our lives and asks us to trust him completely. Jesus assures us of eternal life as we partake in the Eucharist – His very Body and Blood. Realising the impact of God’s word in our salvation, we would be immensely grateful for Jesus words: “…my words will not pass away.” Let us hold tightly to God’s words because they are words we can trust; words we can hang our lives on.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the wonderful promises you have for me. Please help me to trust completely in your words always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 16 – What is the right way to read the Bible?

The right way to read Sacred Scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is God’s word and contains God’s essential communication to us.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Lk 21:33 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Dan 7: 2-14; Dan 3: 75-81 (canticle); Lk 21: 29-33

WHOM DO YOU TRUST?

Thursday 26th November – Thursday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Daniel 6: 12-28

WHOM DO YOU TRUST?

None of us is self-sufficient, able to cater for all his own needs – physical, social, psychological, spiritual etc. God has created us with a need for interdependence. We all look to others to supply our needs in one way or the other. Such interdependence builds on a measure of trust without which our relationships cannot function. A child trusts the parents to provide his material needs, a parent trusts his child to put his best into his studies and uphold the family name through good behaviour. A wife trusts her husband to provide the family needs and the husband trusts his wife to manage family resources effectively to ensure smooth home running.

Yet we humans are very fallible and sometimes even our purest intentions can be foiled. Daniel could have placed his trust in the king, knowing that the king had no intention of hurting him but the first reading reveals that even the kings’ hands seemed to have been somewhat  tied and for all his good intentions, he could not prevent Daniel from being thrown to the lions. Beloved, so it is with us. If we do not place our trust in the ever faithful God, we will be faced with disappointment and frustration as we journey through life.

Only our trust in God will keep us faithful to him like Daniel was even in the face of persecution. Only our trust in God will keep us obedient to him in the choices we make when the whole world is going the wrong way. Beloved, God is our only sure anchor; our only sure hope who cannot be influenced by human limitations. Let your trust in Him be manifest in your total obedience to him as you make your daily choices and even though trials may come, like Daniel, you will experience His mighty power to save.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you because you are ever faithful. Please help me to trust you with the details of my life and find peace in obeying you always. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 470 – What prompts a person to pray?

We pray because we are full of an infinite longing and God has created us men for himself: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (St Augustine). But we pray also because we need to; Mother Teresa says, “Because I cannot rely on myself, I rely on him, twenty-four hours a day.”

HIDE A TREASURE: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” Psalm 125:1 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Daniel 6: 12-28; Dan 3: 68-74 (canticle); Lk 21: 20-28

LOOK INTO THE MIRROR

Wednesday 25th November – Wednesday of week 34 of the year

Reflection: Daniel 5: 1-6, 13-17, 23-28

LOOK INTO THE MIRROR

As the Church’s liturgical calendar draws to a close and we move closer to the end of the year 2015, there is no better time for us than now to examine ourselves and see how well we have fared through this year. “An unexamined life,” it is often said is “not worth living”. Taking time for self-examination is indispensable if we are to grow in holiness and as we examine ourselves, seek God’s mercy and make conscious efforts in striving against our human nature, we will keep ourselves from condemnation.

Belshazzar’s downfall in today’s first reading occured because he failed to examine himself, thus allowing the sin of pride to overcome him. He had become great, being the ruler of the whole world and had fought and won numerous battles. But he did not recognise the hands of the Almighty God at work in his life. Despite the humiliating experience his father, Nebuchadnezzar had gotten because of his pride, Belshazzar did not learn from it and humble himself before God. Hence, “he had been measured on the balance and found wanting” (Dan 5:27).

Dear friend, what is that vice that is holding you captive? Take time to examine yourself today. Do you have traces of the seven capital sins in your life? Pride, anger, greed, lust, gluttony, envy, sloth – all these open the door to more grievous sins. God gives us a chance today to weigh our own selves while we still can and make the necessary amends so that He will not weigh us at the end of time and find us wanting.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please shed the light of your Spirit into my heart. Open my eyes to see myself as I really am and seek for your pardon and grace in my areas of weakness. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: YOUCAT 229What prepares a person for repentance?

The insight into one’s personal guilt produces a longing to better oneself; this is called contrition. We arrive at contrition when we see the contradiction between God’s love and our sin. Then we are full of sorrow for our sins; we resolve to change our life and place all our hope in God’s help

HIDE A TREASURE: “But if we judge ourselves truly, we should not be judged.” 1 Cor 11:31 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Dan 5: 1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28; Dan 3: 62-67 (canticle); Lk 21: 12-19

FOCUSING ON THE “WHEN”

Tuesday 24th November – Memorial of SS Andrew Dung-Lac & his

Companions, Martyrs

Reflection: Luke 21: 5-11

FOCUSING ON THE “WHEN”

Quite often I hear comments on how close the end of the world is, considering the difficulties faced by the modern world – wars, natural disasters, terrorism, extreme poverty, godlessness, immorality etc. Our preoccupation is very much like that of Christ’s audience in today’s gospel reading: “when…what are the signs?” They wanted to know when these things would take place so as to prepare beforehand but Jesus’ emphasis was different – His emphasis was on their constant preparedness.

Beloved, whether or not we can read the signs of the end of time is insignificant compared to the hard truth that stares at us in the face each day – our own personal lives can end at any time. We certainly have been taken aback by the sudden death of friends and loved ones. These deaths remind us that ours too can come at any time. Yet, far from keeping us in the fear of death, these reminders of our end should help us put life into proper perspective and that is what the Church calls us to do at Advent which is fast approaching.

Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the first reading showed that God would set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed. We have the privilege through our Baptism to be children of God, heirs to his kingdom. Let us live up to our baptismal promises and put to use the various means of sanctification the Church offers us in our daily lives. As we do this, we would focus not on the “when” of our end but on living a life of constant union with God here on earth.

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the gift of my faith and for incorporating me into God’s kingdom through your death. Please help me to live each day as your true ambassador. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 543 – Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. Frist announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word: the word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field: those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace” 2 Peter 3:14 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Daniel 2:31-45; Dan 3: 57-61 (canticle); Lk 21: 5-11